Proving they are still capable of old-fashioned journalism, the McClatchy DC Bureau and the Kansas City Star teamed up to expose the vast amount of federal dollars that has enriched Joseph Shepard in the 12 years since his wife Claire McCaskill was first elected to the U.S. Senate.
The sum directed the way of Shepard’s business enterprises is a staggering $131 million. Most of this money has gone towards the operation of the subsidized housing projects with which Shepard is involved, but much of it has gone into the pockets of Shepard and his partners.
Before McCaskill was elected senator in 2006, Shepard listed personal income from these investments as less than $17,000. By 2017, disclosure forms revealed that Shepard received somewhere between $365,374 and $1,118,158 from investments in housing projects receiving federal subsidies.
The McClatchy article notes, “There’s no evidence that McCaskill played any part in directing federal funds to businesses affiliated with her husband.” But in cases like this, there never is. There does not have to be. As Peter Schweizer documents in his book Secret Empires, far too many elected officials, especially U.S. Senators, grow rich in “service” to their nation. McCaskill is now reportedly the wealthiest federal official in the Midwest.
When asked about the family windfall, Meira Bernstein, McCaskill’s campaign spokeswoman, told the reporters, “Her only concern when doing her job in the Senate is what is best for the people of Missouri.”
Republicans in Missouri aren’t buying that line. They have used McCaskill’s new found wealth against her as she she seeks re-election. The fact that she bought a $2.7 million D.C. condo and used her husband’s private plane in her campaign paint a picture of someone who is not exactly in touch with Missouri values.
Although the reporters take great pains to disassociate McCaskill from her husband’s increasing wealth, they do note the following: “Based on the data, it appears that a growing percentage of Shepard’s personal earnings come from new businesses he has invested in that are receiving federal awards, primarily rural rental assistance through the USDA.”
In exposing the McCaskill gravy train months before the election, McClatchy has shown that it is not always a tool of the Democratic Party. If its papers follow suit, they may slow their descent into obsolescence.